When I read this figure, even I was shocked. Having sold both B2B and B2C over the course of my career I definitely thought that the e-commerce potential for B2C would be much greater.
However, given the new post COVID-19 world, those numbers don't seem so far fetched. As the world and business shifts to online it's no surprise that they way businesses do business will fundamentally shift as well.
Let's take a look at the new B2B environment and what you need in order to be successful.
What is B2B Sales?
Business-to-business or B2B for short refers to companies or sales people who sell products or services directly to other businesses.
Business-to-consumer or B2C for short refers to companies or sales people who sell products or services directly to consumers.
The B2B sales process versus B2C sales process varies considerably. With each usually having different sales cycles, different parties involved and typically one is more marketing heavy than the other.
Let's take a look at the sales cycle for B2B in particular.
The B2B vs B2C Sales Cycle
A typical B2B sale usually starts with an incoming lead. That incoming lead could be generated by a marketing effort by way of an ad of your website, or it could be generated directly by a sales person.
Once that lead is generated it's then taken on by a sales rep who will turn the lead into a prospect and begin moving that prospect through the sales process. This sales process is usually done all online, or could be done with some in-person meetings and depending on the complexity of the sale could take anywhere from 2 weeks up to 6 months or more.
A B2C sale typically works a little differently. B2C leads are usually generated through marketing efforts only, and are converted into a sale by a series of marketing touch points. These touch points are called impressions and can be a combination of social media ads, print ads, social proof and referrals. There are instances in which sales people or customer service people are required in a B2C sale, car sales is a great example, however because buyers in a B2C sale tend to make quicker decisions the selling effort, not to be confused with the marketing effort often pales in comparison as to what is required for a b2b sale.
Why is B2B Sales Hard?
B2B sales can be hard but it can also be fairly easy with the right system, sales process and sales tools in place. Sales in b2b versus b2c sales differ by one major factor, the buyers are not the same. Yes, they can be the same people, but those people often have different roles depending on what they are buying. Identifying and classifying those buyers is usually the first and most critical step for any company when they are looking to sell a product or service.
Understanding what that buyer is looking for, what makes them happy, what makes them tick, what will get them that promotion are all key factors in successfully winning sales b2b or b2c.
Building detailed buyer personas is often the first step a business takes before selling a product or a service.
How do B2B sales work?
While the B2B sales process can be complex depending on the product or services being sold, mapping this process out can be much more simple than you'd first expect.
The best way to map out your b2b sales process is by first asking yourself: what will my buyers do before coming to my website or reaching out to inquire about my product or services?
For most buyers this includes:
compiling a short list on multiple solutions and options
asking peers and colleagues for recommendations on potential solutions
reading reviews and looking for social proof for the solutions they've shortlisted
Once the buyer has a few solutions they feel comfortable with, they'll start reaching out to sales people to learn more about the product or service and it's at that point that the sales person will begin taking them through the b2b sales process.
5 Best Tools for Smooth B2B Sales
Due to the complex nature of most B2B sales it's important that sales reps are equipped with all the necessary tools to make the b2b sales process run smoothly and effectively. The best way to figure out what tools are needed at which point is to map our your sales process, align your sales pipeline to that sales process, then start thinking about what selling will entail at each stage.
I know that can be tricky, which is why I've compiled this cheat sheet of resources to help you get selling faster and more effectively.
Seamless.ai - Category - Prospecting
Lead generation is usually the first step in B2B sales. It usually requires a sales rep to do research on potential customers, then contact those customers to initiate the sales process. Seamless.ai provides an easy way to find email addresses, phone numbers and business contact information.
Hubspot - Category - CRM
A solid customer relationship management system or CRM for short is imperative to success in B2B sales. These systems help sales people track leads through the sales cycle and measure the total selling time and selling time between sales activities. A CRM system is usually the difference maker between a highly successful b2b sales organization and an unsuccessful business-to-business sales organization. Hubspot CRM is an easy to use, free CRM tool that can be implemented at a company of any size and for a variety or products and services.
Linkedin - Category - Social outreach
A no brainer, LinkedIn is a key tool in sales for business. In order to be where your buyers are, you have to be on LinkedIn. Not only is it a great way to generate leads but it's a great way to get noticed by your b2b buyers and ensure that your company is an active part of the b2b sales ecosystem. You can also further empower your sales people to sell more by upgrading their access to LinkedIn Sales Navigator which is extremely useful for b2b sales but also can be useful for b2c sales.
Monday.com - Category - Post Sale Project Management
Often b2b sales require post sale project management once the selling process is over and the deal is closed. Depending on the company and product this process can vary in complexity. Regardless of that complexity, a great tool to make sure your b2b buyers are still being taken care of post sale, is project management tool Monday.com. Monday.com enables post sale account managers to up-sell into accounts and make sure that your buyers are are effectively being delivered the product or service that they paid for.
Whether you are a 5 person company or a 50 person company using free, collaborative resources like Google Sheets and Docs is a great way to collaborate with team members on your b2b sales. Often b2b sales processes require templates, scripts and shared docs in order for sales people and buyers to get all the information they need during the selling process. Setting up a Google drive for your sales team and using the share feature is an easy way to ensure that all team members and your buyers have the tools they need to sell while saving costs on expensive software to your business.